AP Psychology
Unit 14: Social Psychology

Person Perception

Person perception is the process of forming impressions of others - constant, pervasive, often not conscious, but has a huge impact on how you interact with those around you.

  • Often influenced by STEREOTYPES - widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a certain group.
  • ILLUSORY CORRELATION - occurs when people estimate that they have encountered more confirmations of a personality trait than they have actually experienced.

Evolutionary psychologists would argue that this biased way of thinking is a survival mechanism - INGROUP And OUTGROUP categorizations help maintain a social structure

WATCH Ted Talk: Your Body Language Changes Who You Are (The whole thing is 21 minutes long, watch excerpt from 4:00-~10:00)

  • Stereotypes – widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a particular group (gender, age, race, occupational)

Attribution Theory

1. Definition

  • Personal Attribution (dispositional/internal attribution) v. Situational Attribution (external/environmental)
  • Fundamental Attribution Error
  • Actor-Observer Bias
  • Self-Serving Bias
  • Self-handicapping

2. Effects of Attribution

Attribution Theory

Social psychologist Fritz Heider proposed a theory to describe HOW WE EXPLAIN OTHERS BEHAVIORS. We explain in two possible ways:

  • Dispositional attribution (internal attribution) - behavior is a result of a person's enduring, stable personality traits - THEY are responsible for their behavior and choices
  • Situational attribution (external attribution)- behavior is a result of the situation that a person finds themselves in - people respond DIFFERENTLY  to SITUATIONAL STIMULI

This leads to the FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR - we overestimate the influence of personality and underestimate the influence of situations.


Positive or negative evaluations of objects of thought (social issues, groups, institutions, consumer products, and people)

Attitude includes UP TO 3 COMPONENTS:

  • Cognitive Component – beliefs people hold about the object
  • Affective Component – emotional feelings stimulated by the object
  • Behavioral component – consists of predispositions to act in certain ways toward an attitude object

a. Each of these components can vary in 3 ways:

  • STRENGTH – strong attitudes are firmly held and resistant to change, durable over time, have a powerful impact on beliefs
  • ACCESSIBILITY – how often you think about the object and how quickly it comes to mind
  • AMBIVALENCE – ambivalence means you hold conflicted evaluations that include positive and negative feelings

** ATTITUDE AS PREDICTOR OF BEHAVIOR? Not necessarily. Strong, accessible attitudes are the BEST predictors …BUT your subjective perceptions of how people EXPECT you to act is also important

  • EX: Voicing a strong political opinion in class v. voicing it at a party where it might start an argument

Are we aware of our attitudes?

  • Explicit attitudes we hold consciously and can readily describe.
  • Implicit attitudes are covert attitudes that are expressed in subtle automatic responses that people have little conscious control over.

Implicit attitudes & Prejudice?

  • Testing Implicit attitudes:


Attitude Change

Elements of Attitude Change

  • Communicator – Source – person who sends the communication.
  • Communication – message – information transmitted by the source – goes through a CHANNEL which is the medium through which the message is sent.
  • Target – Receiver – who is getting the message. Receivers with strong attitudes are more resistant to change
  • Situation?

Factors involving the communicator

  • Communication is more successful when the source is CREDIBLE (expertise or trustworthiness). Also more successful when sources is LIKEABLE.

Factors involving the communications

  • (a) One versus two sided arguments – two sided are more effective
  • (b) Primacy effect - subject recalling primary information presented better than information presented later on
  • (c) Stating one's conclusion
  • (d) Novelty of information
  • (e) Foot in the door - getting a person to agree to a large request by first setting them up by having that person agree to a modest request
  • (f) Low ball - an item or service is offered at a lower price than is actually intended to be charged, after which the price is raised. Cognitive dissonance from the already anticipated benefits of the product prevent the person from backing out in the face of the new costs.
  • (g) Door in the face - The persuader attempts to convince the respondent to comply by making a large request that the respondent will most likely turn down, much like a metaphorical slamming of a door in the persuader's face. The respondent is then more likely to agree to a second, more reasonable request, compared to the same reasonable request made in isolation.
  • (h) That’s Not All - When offering or conceding something to somebody, rather than give it to them as a final item, give it in incremental pieces. Do not allow them to respond to each piece you give them -- keep on offering more.
  • (i) Hard to get
  • (j) Fear arousal – describe the worst case scenario
  • (k) Sleeper effect - It is a delayed increase of the effect of a message that is accompanied by a discounting cue.
  • (l) Truth effect – simply repeating a statement makes it seem more true
  • (m) Mere exposure – repeated exposure promotes greater liking

Factors effecting the target

  • (a) Commitment
  • (b) Reciprocity
  • (c) Personality factors - Self esteem - Intelligence - Sex
  • (d) Cognitive Dissonance – when related cognition are inconsistent, contradict each other. Cause effort justification. Dissonance can lead to mind being change - Festinger
  • (e) Forewarned – Makes you less likely to be susceptible to persuasion
  • (f) Role Playing
  • (g) Elaboration Likelihood model (Centra v. peripheral route of persuasion)

Persuasion Commercial Assignment

Using the chart provided watch commercials to find examples of communication and persuasion! We will discuss Monday!

Conformity & Obedience

- Watch Asch conformity video

- Watch Milgram conformity video

- Read/Discuss Milgram reading

Behavior in Groups

Using Peeps (or other small figures) create and take a picture of a diorama that illustrates your assigned vocabulary terms. We will discuss on Monday!

  1. Group
  2. Bystander effect
  3. Social loafing
  4. Group Polarization
  5. Groupthink
  6. Group Cohesiveness
  7. Deindividuation


  1. Conformity
  2. Asch conformity study
  3. Milgram Conformity study
  4. Allport’s Phases of Rumors
  5. Mass hysteria
  6. In-group favoritism
  7. Out-group derogation
  8. Reciprocity norm


Crash Course Social Psychology

Mrs. Rice and Social Thinking